Engaging, Cultivating, and Investing

theme for 2017 annie armstong easter offering

Reaching the Unchurched in North America

By Carrie Brown McWhorter

The word cooperation suggests an attitude of unity, a sense of harmony and teamwork. “Together for His Kingdom,” this year’s theme for the Week of Prayer for North American Missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, emphasizes the cooperative mission of Southern Baptists to pray for missionaries, give to support their work, and go to further the gospel.

The North American Mission Board (NAMB) estimates 259 million people in the United States and Canada do not have a personal relationship with Jesus. Researchers are finding a growing spiritual apathy among the unchurched. A June 2016 study by LifeWay Research found that few think about what happens after they die and only a third of respondents said they would go to a worship service, even if invited by a friend.

If the unchurched are willing to visit a service, there might not be a church trying to reach them. According to NAMB, only one Southern Baptist congregation exists for every 6,828 people in North America.

Believers in the early church worked cooperatively to build the kingdom of God, and Acts 8:12 confirms the results of their efforts: “When they believed Philip, as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized” (HCSB).

Just like the early church, Southern Baptists are preaching the gospel and baptizing new believers. New churches are seeing tremendous kingdom growth. According to namb.net, established Southern Baptist churches baptized three people per 100 resident members. New churches baptize four times that many.

Church plants also reach the increasingly diverse populations found in North American cities. Census data shows that more than 80 percent of the population now lives in metropolitan areas. Young professionals and Baby Boomers are leading the trend. Send Cities also have high foreign-born populations, and more internationals are coming every year.

Regardless of where they come from, these urban transplants share common goals—better jobs, safer communities, and long-term prosperity. As a result, NAMB has prioritized 32 Send Cities as vital missions fields for kingdom growth and influence. These cities, spread throughout Canada and the United States, are the unreached Samarias of North America. In addition to supporting church planters and missionaries, NAMB supports a wide array of initiatives and church-based ministries aimed at fostering community partnerships to increase global impact. Chaplains, pastors, students, and volunteers all play a role in pushing back lostness in North America.

Prayer and financial support through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering are critical for the work of the church planters, evangelism catalysts, and missionaries who daily carry the gospel forward in Send Cities and throughout North America. Every dollar of the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering goes to missionaries and their work throughout North America, allowing them to preach, baptize, and make disciples “together for His kingdom.”

 

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